Music for the Christmas Season

Tired of yet another version of Jingle Bells or All I Want for Christmas? Maybe you'll like our 'Special Seasonal Mix' on Spotify, a selection of songs to spice up this cold December month.

Even though we celebrate Christmas a little differently this year, presents are always nice to receive and to give. Balsam's music literally works as a balm to many souls in these times, an ideal gift for under the Christmas tree. Thanks to a stock sale of the Homerecords label, you can buy the Scattered Rhymes CD with the Frank Vaganée Trio at a discount price of 5 euros. For a swinging start of 2021!


Fall 2020: Balsam and two premieres

We are all in need of cultural activities after the past months. It's something we noticed from the many moved reactions after playing Balsam at the Zomer van Antwerpen in July. The press has repeatedly called the performance "a balm for the soul." This autumn we bring you extra oxygen for the soul with the reprise of Balsam in Rotterdam and Heerlen.

On October 14, Zefiro Torna and the contemporary French Ensemble Variances will unite music from the 14th to the 21st centuries during the premiere of BACHC®AB in deSingel. And a month later we'll launch you 'im glückliche Fahrt' into a new time and space with the long-awaited premiere of PAST | ORALE: BTHVN transhumanized during the Lunalia festival. Looking forward to this special reunion!


Zefiro strikes back

The word is out! After a few exciting weeks we can announce that BALSAM, the mysterious laboratory with Laika, will be premiered at Zomer van Antwerpen. We'll play 36 times between 1 and 26 July, but as tickets are limited, be sure to buy your tickets on time.

In August we will be back on stage with SLUIMER - together with Lore Binon and Benjamin Glorieux - during the Music Mondays in Ninove and the Bijloke Zomerbar.

We'll kick off this special summer on 21 June with Klara on Tour. Follow our performance with soprano Annelies Van Gramberen at 2 pm, broadcasted live from Amuz via Klara.


Zefiro Torna's antidote

Like many other artists and ensembles, Zefiro Torna had to cancel upcoming concerts due to the corona crisis. It's a pity, but the health of everyone around us comes first.

In the meantime, we continue to work on future projects from our attic, living room or improvised office. Every week, we'll provide a musical antidote, starting with this playlist on Spotify:

Stay healthy and creative!


A lab of senses

In January 2020, Zefiro Torna will reshape the production of Balsam into a music theater performance that stimulates all the senses. To this end, the ensemble works together with theater company Laika - Theater der Zinnen. Balsam becomes a visual and physically stimulating laboratory in which the live music merges with surprising scents and flavors. While the music is simmering and enchanting, the spectators witness all kinds of experiments and chemical processes: oil solidifies dropwise into edible pearls, milk becomes electric, charcoal a sweet treat. Balms, powders, drinks and amuse gueules in all scents, colors and flavors are presented and shared by the performers with those sitting next to you, premiered on January 31, 2020 in Le Channel (Calais, FR) and then on tour in France, The Netherlands and Belgium.


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The Allegory of Desire

— The Song of Songs in Western and Oriental traditions (2016)

Zefiro Torna – Vocalconsort Berlin – Ghalia Benali

    The Hebrew Bible contains an extremely mysterious book known as the Song of Salomon, Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Songs. The book reads like a compilation of poems thematically centered around the theme of human love. The main characters are two lovers of the opposite sex. The poetry is rich in its imagery, often plainly erotic and suggestive. The Song of Songs is set in a sublimated world, it can be seen as an allegory for God's love and as a drive for mysticism. For centuries it has formed an inspiration for numerous oriental and western artists as well as scientists.

    Was zunächts befremdlich wirkt, wird schnell zu einer grosen Bereicherung; bald schon treten Orient und Okzident in einen Dialog. Gmünder Tagespost – 02.08.2016

    Zefiro Torna created this exceptional program in 2013, together with Vocalconsort Berlin and Tunisian singer and artist Ghalia Benali. In this program, single voiced madrigals with instrumental accompaniment, vocal duets and trios, a women's choir and polyphonic settings by composers such as von Bingen, de Machaut, Dunstable, Agricola, Lassus, Grandi, Sances, Monteverdi, Schütz, Buxtehude and J.Ch. Bach interact with traditional Arab songs, narrating texts by ‘Sufi’ poets and by a new generation of poets such as the Egyptian Abdallah Ghoneem. Creating an inspiring dialogue between cultures and history, ‘The Allegory of Desire’ bridges the distance between sacrality and humanity.

    During the last couple of years, they gained success on prestigious podiums in Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Winterthur, Sevilla, Vilnius and Amsterdam. ‘The Allegory of Desire’ was released by Warner Classics in October 2016.

  1. Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1702) - Meine Freundin, du bist schön (from ‘Hochzeitskantate’/Altbachisches Archiv)
  2. John Dunstable (1390-1453) - Quam pulchra es
  3. Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179) - Ghalia Benali / Text: Abdalla Ghoneem (Egypt,1990) - Favus distillans - Mw'soul
  4. Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) - Maugré mon cuer - de ma dolour confortés - Quia amore langueo
  5. Ghalia Benali (1968) / Text: Abdalla Ghoneem & Ghalia Benali - Last embrace
  6. Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672) - Ego dormio
  7. Ghalia Benali / Text: Zakaria.M (Egypt, 1992) - Dry Veins
  8. Orlandus Lassus (1532-1594) - Veni dilecti
  9. Allessandro Grandi (1586-1630) - O, quam tu pulchra es
  10. Riad Al Sunbaty (Egypt 1906-1981) for Oum Kalthoum / Text: Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya (Iraq 8th C) - Araftu'l Hawa
  11. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) - Pulchra es (from 'Vespro della beata Vergine')
  12. Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707) - Ad latus - Surge amica mea (from 'Membra Jesu nostri')
  13. Giovanni Felice Sances (c.1600-1679) - Vulnerasti cor meum
  14. Trad. (Iraq 9th C, Andalusia 14th C) - Lama Bada
  15. Johann Christoph Bach - Mein Freund ist mein (chaconne) from the cantata 'Meine Freundin, du bist schön'
  16. Ghalia Benali - Dama dai'man

Zefiro Torna
Cécile Kempenaers soprano
Griet De Geyter soprano
Jowan Merckx flutes, percussion
Romina Lischka viola da gamba, Indian chant
Jurgen De bruyn lute, theorbo, artistic direction

Vocalconsort Berlin
Verena Gropper soprano
Anne Bierwirth alto
Stephan Gähler tenor
Johannes Klugling tenor
Christoph Drescher bass

Ghalia Benali Arabic chant, compositions

Musical supervision: Manuel Mohino
Audio recording, mixing and editing: Manuel Mohino
Booklet text: Ilja Stephan & Jurgen De bruyn
Photograph cover: Lieven Dirckx
Photographs booklet: Sebastian Bolesch
Artwork: Jef Cuypers
Production Warner Music: Brigitte Ghyselen
Recorded: June 2016, Eglise Saint-Rémi, Franc-Waret

Released by Warner Classics